From School Lunch Organic Farm:
School Lunch Organic Farm in Mount Olive is pleased to announce that CSA memberships are available now, with contactless weekly pick-up at locations in Maplewood, Morristown, Montville, and Mount Olive/Hackettstown.
Farmer Margaret Noon spent last week putting in tomatoes, some 1,000 plants that she coaxed from seed – heirlooms and Brandywines, Rutgers tomatoes and black cherries.
All produce from School Lunch Farm is certified organic, and each CSA bag includes a variety of just-picked seasonal produce. Noon’s commitment to the integrity of the ingredient and her charity work earned a 2015 Local Hero award from Edible Jersey magazine. Noon donates an average of 10,000 pounds of fresh produce each season to local pantries, schools and agencies with people in need.
Noon farms six half-acre plots in Mount Olive. “You can grow a tremendous amount of food in a small area,” she notes.
The spring has been unseasonably cold. In Mount Olive, neighbors can’t remember a colder spring. It snowed in May. Another May day brought hailstones. Noon, as a farmer, checks the forecast diligently, but last week she kept her eyes on the hourly nightly temperature. If it is too cold for too many hours, the tomatoes won’t survive.
Farming always comes with its risks, but this year Covid-19 presents an existential threat to small farmers statewide. The virus has shut down restaurants (which buy farm-fresh produce) and limits the number of customers at farmers’ markets. Many small farms hope to attract enough CSA customers to survive.
Noon has been deeply saddened by the staggering loss of life in New Jersey and she is concerned about what lies ahead for farmers statewide. Yet she is glad to be able to spend her days in the field.
“I am not a person who uses the word ‘grateful,’ a lot, but I’m grateful I have this farm at this time. I have a lot of friends who are depressed. It’s really great to be here, doing something positive.”
Some New Jersey farms are experiencing an increase in demand for their CSA programs. Customers are eager to support local businesses, and a weekly CSA bag is full of fresh, local – and healthy – produce. Plus, many customers say they feel reassured in knowing that their produce has been handled by only a few people. Yet many small farms statewide face real economic danger.
For Noon, this year was supposed to be a new beginning. She had put her CSA on hold last year to have her hip replaced. She wasn’t sure she could meet the commitment. “I was afraid I’d be crawling on the ground to complete the harvest,” she says. Her surgery was more successful than she had imagined, and she began the season reinvigorated. “The surgery gave me my life back.”
Noon, who turns 60 this year, spends 10 hours a day in the field. She remains committed to the farm, which is in its 10th year. “My farm sustains me, and I believe in the power of small farms to sustain our communities.”
Note: Joining a CSA supports a local business, a critical commitment during these times. School Lunch Farm CSA memberships are available now; for more information go to schoollunchfarm.com or call 908-451-0051.
The farm provides certified organic produce, which is handled by a maximum of three sets of gloved hands (compared to supermarket produce, which can be handled by up to 250 pairs of hands). Produce, from lettuce to broccoli, is harvested the day you receive it. Contactless weekly pick-up is available at locations in Maplewood, Morristown, Montville, and Mount Olive/Hackettstown.